Mission Inn, Riverside CA: Faces of the Past?

mission inn, author's rowThe Mission Inn in Riverside California is a magnificent Mission-Revival style hotel spanning an entire city block. The hotel began in 1876 as Christopher Columbus Miller’s family adobe and was built up over the years by Christopher’s son, Frank Miller. The hotel is on the National Registry of Historic Places, and is an architectural marvel, in addition to housing magnificent works of art from Frank Miller’s extensive collection. The Mission Inn also has a haunted reputation.

During a tour of the Mission Inn catacombs, Los Angeles Paranormal snapped this picture down a corridor. In examining the photos later, we noticed something unusual. Do you see a mysterious figure peering out from one of the alcoves on the right? There was no one in the corridor when this picture was taken. Could this be the ghost of the hotel’s eccentric original owner, Frank Miller? Or is it simply a trick of light and shadow? Mr Miller kept a vast collection of art and antique collectibles in the catacombs. He would often roam the hotel grounds and the corridors of the catacombs dressed as a Franciscan monk.
catacombs

Frank Miller’s younger sister, Alice, lived at the hotel until her death in the 1940’s. It was Alice who commissioned the hotel’s famous Glockenspiel, but sadly did not live to see it’s completion. Her former room, now called Aunt Alice’s room, is reported to be one of the most haunted in the hotel. One hotel staff member we spoke to told us that staff have actually quit after having experiences in this room. Reports run the gamut from cold spots to being touched. Here is a photo of the glass door that Alice used as her front door. Interestingly, the top left pane has an unusual wearing or warping in the smoked glass that causes the effect seen below. Do you see the shape of a face in the window?
aunt alice's room

  1. Stayed In room 148. Kept feeling like something was up in the closet.

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    1. Usually the top portion of the closet has a friendly spirit of sorts. Never mayhem, just peek-a-boo. A Tarot card reader resided in that room back in the early 80’s when I worked at the Inn. Just showed up one day and felt right at home.

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  2. Hi all, here is a follow up to earlier posts. I’ve spend many months researching the Mission Inn’s history and here is what I know. The Aunt Alice suite was believed to have been the living quarters of Frank Miller’s sister, Alice Richardson, who died in her apartment from a heart attack in August of 1938. Aliss Hutchings, Frank Miller’s daughter, lived on the ground floor with her husband DeWitt until their deaths in the early 1950s. Aliss did not officially take over the hotel until a few years after Frank Miller’s death in 1935. That means that Alice Richardson was the main manager during Frank Miller’s lifetime. Hope this helps.

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  3. 2nd floor top of the staircase, glass office enclosure doors welded shut.
    3rd floor cloister wing, various rooms, more activity in rooms facing patio.
    3rd floor Aunt. Alice’s suite. I forget the room number. Above.the spanish art gallery on third floor. Most southern room that meets the staircase going up to 4th floor.
    4th floor Carmel Tower.
    4th floor domed room N/E corner of 4th floor next to the Rotund.
    Equal to 6th floor main bell tower above mail elevator shaft.
    Old dining room above kitchen. Next to St Francis Chapel.

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  4. I worked at the Inn in the security department from 1982 to 1985 when the in was sold and remodeling began. There were several occurrences that happened when I was there. I worked all shifts and explored all tunnels leading off the property as part of my patrol. The hot spots that I remember are the following:
    Mission Inn was set up as ground level, then 1st floor etc to 4th floor.
    The presidential lounge, bar off the lobby.
    The music room around the pipe organ.
    1st Floor at the Flyers Wall, outside St Francis Chapel.
    2nd floor (3rd floor any where else.

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  5. I am currently right at this very moment sitting in Aunt Alice rooms and can debunk your photo. It is the reflection of the small orange tree that sits on the patio.

    Sorry to ruin the fun

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  6. […] Mission Inn. You can apparently take a tour of the catacombs beneath the old hotel. Here’s another blog post; apparently, the Mission Inn is quite popular among paranormal enthusiasts. This blog post gives […]

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  7. I’ve stayed at the hotel on three occasions over the years, and while I have never seen, heard or felt anything unusual, we were told some amazing ghost tales from our maitre’d at Duane’s Steakhouse. He told of seeing apparitions of a woman in century old dress and of large planters moving across the dining room in plain view of staff. Made for interesting dinner conversation.

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  8. I stayed at the Mission Inn for business many years ago – I knew nothing about the place or its history. When I checked in I was given a room in the old part of the hotel. As the bell hop was walking me to my room I got a very uneasy feeling. When we entered the room I ask him if the place was haunted (gut feeling only). He did not answer me. About an hour later, I received a phone call from the front desk stating that they had put me in the wrong room by mistake and was moved to a room in the newer part of the hotel. I wish I knew then that there really was some history – I would have done some exploring!!

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  9. I love the mission in and have been there many times since i live and go to college near there. I knew of it being haunted but never really knew were. One day me and my friend looked around and took pictures. When we came across the Aunt Alice door we decided to take pictures of her name above the sheer door. As we did me and my friend took the picture many times, we retook it and retook it but it still came out blurry, it was so strange because when you looked at the screen you see the name perfectly fine, but once you took it it was blurry and had this glow over it.
    I love this place don’t find it creepy just fascinating.

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  10. I’m with a paranormal group how can we get in for an investigation? My paranormal group is really intrested. They r based on East LA but I live here in Riverside. Plz get bk to asap thank u so much and live the stories 🙂

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  11. To have stayed at The Mission Inn was the most amazingly spooky indulgence ever!

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  12. How about room 217? Anyone experience anything usual in it.

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  13. contact me I’d be more than willing to look at the photo for you…

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    1. I would love to send it to you, but I can’t find your Facebook site now. I did find it last week and saw your picture of the Mission Inn.

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  14. My family stayed at the Mission Inn this weekend. We were in room 136–a two room suite with a private staircase entrance. We didn’t have any noise–other than the Maccaws below our room, and we slept very well.

    However, I was taking a pictures of the hotel, and decided to take one of the entryway to our room. On the 3rd photo I saw a black ball maybe 2 inches around, move quickly from the closed door of the room over the stair landing and the stair rail. I clearly saw it through the viewfinder and managed to snap a picture as in was over the railing. It happened very quickly. I immediately looked around to see if anyone was near. Nobody there. I looked on the floor for the dark ball. Nothing. I knew something unusual had just happened.

    I told my husband and daughter about it and my daughter asked to see the picture of it. She was able to enlarge the photo on the camera and you can clearly see a very white thing she says looks like a big butterfly with a light in the middle. It looks like the winged white thing cast a shadow on the wall, which was what I saw. But, I never saw a white thing with my naked eye. Not while the dark spot was moving, nor afterwards when I put the camera down and looked for something in the hall and on the floor. I wish I could download the photo here so you could see it and give me feedback!

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  15. Jasmine, first congratulations…I don’t know much about the Amistad room? I do know that I ghost is not limited to one area of the Inn. I’d be more than willing to meet with you if that will help. Contact me further for assistance.
    Best Regards,
    Jeanette Burton
    Burton Photography

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  16. I’m getting Married at The Mission Inn in a little over a month, and have been considering staying in the beautiful Amistad room. Any word on that room being haunted?

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  17. Three days ago…I was one of several photographers allowed to photograph the inn on a special tour and on the forth floor, I captured an image of what looks like a ghostly white lady…it’s there in one frame and in one second it’s gone in the next frame. I checked the camera’s history and the time is 9:59:16 the image is there and 9:59:17 the image is gone. The Mission Inn Museum is hosting a 1st Annual Photography Talent Day, July 7,2011 and I will be unveiling this photo at that time. I can be contacted at Facebook at Burton Photography or you can contact the Museum at 951-788-9556

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  18. I stayed at Mission Inn last year with my boyfriend. I was working during the day. I called him about 5:30 pm saying I was heading back. When I got there and opened the door he looked up from the desk where he was on his laptop with a feaked out look. He asked where I had just gone. I said I just got there. He replied that about five minutes beforehand someone had opened the door and gone in the bathroom he saw them out of the corner of his eye. He asked me to check the bathroom and of course no one was there.

    His phone also had gone from the top of the bed to underneath it. He is super scared of the paranormal and had no idea of any activity there before we stayed.

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  19. OK! I took a picture right infornt of Aunt Alice room too. The same image appeard on my camera. Now it makes me wonder if it’s fake just to make people believe that it’s hunted attraction. If not all I have to say is WOW!!!

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  20. I just stayed at the Mission Inn last weekend, our room was 405. A lovely room, nothing creepy about it per se (and I’ve been a head docent at a well known historic house museum that is definitely haunted for over 5 years), save for the closet area seemed a trifle unsettling.

    No issues with the suite, it was gorgeous and beyond our expectations, other than I had two nights of very unsettled sleep. I was up at least 6 times each night. As a person approaching 50 I attributed this to a combination of my age gaining on me and sleeping in an unfamiliar place.

    But I just now downloaded all my photos of the Mission Inn and my trip in general.

    The photographs of the room were a little alarming, to say the least. Nowhere else in the hotel were these anomalies present, nowhere in my other photographs outside the hotel were these present.

    I thought, hey…seems like a party went on in our room without us knowing it.

    So I decided to check if there have ever been any reports of hauntings in this hotel.

    Surprised to see the majority of the stories take place in the very vicinity of our room.

    Things that make you go…..”hmmmmmm……………”

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    1. Hi–i just stayed at the Mission Inn this weekend. This morning i took a photo outside our room–136. Beautiful room with a private entry stairwell. As i was taking a photo i saw a dark ball move from the door down across the landing and over the stair railing. It took me by surprise but luckily I did get a photo. We were looking at it in our car on the way home and noticed that there’s a white shiny butterflyish light in the photo that caused the dark thing i saw through the camera viewfinder like it was a shadow on the wall. But Ii never saw the white thing. Didn’t know about it until it showed up in the picture. And i saw the dark reflection on the wall before the flash went off. Going to download the photo when we get home.

      What did your photos show?

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    2. I just wrote an account of our visit there this weekend, and I too have strange picture. Would love to see your photos.

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  21. I am currently staying at the Mission Inn, Riverside and I’ve just experienced something very unusual so I had to google it. I was working on my computer and the lamp shade started to shake violently. I thought it was an earthquake, but then nothing else was moving, so I was stunned! It shook for about 2 minutes. I even tried to hold it so it could stop but it would vibrate in my hand. It’s 10:16 pm and I’m planning to call down stairs and change my room.

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    1. losangelesparanormalassociation 22 Oct 2010 at 12:39 am

      Hi Oki, that is very interesting. Did you have any other activity after that? Did you move rooms?

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  22. I worked at the Mission Inn for 2 years. I too have heard many stories of hauntings and other activities. For the first year and a half I never experienced anything. After one late night of working, Myself and three of my co-workers decided to take another path out of work. We walked through the Music Room and were just chit chattin away when we heard the piano playing. It was like 3 am. No one else there, just dark shadows and us. We all looked at each other and were like nah, it was nothing, then it played again. We ran, I never walked that way again. Later on, I was working in another part, when i just felt so strange. I was again closing up and stuff kept fallin’ it was just weird and scary. Yes, IMO the Mission Inn is haunted.

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    1. 3 am is the time ghost come out the most!! No joke, I did my research and found that out! why they mainly come out at 3am i dont know, but for some reason they do. and i am not suprised to hear of your encouter at 3am like you were just saying! 😉

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  23. Christina Williams 3 Jul 2010 at 3:43 am

    I used to live in Riverside and I always went to the Inn, it’s a place where I went to relax and get away from the nosie of the city..The Roof is the most amazing view I ever saw..It’s peaceful and it seems eeier in a way.I’ve always been interested in the supernatural, I undrestand the stories behind the mission and how long the history is..To see such beauty in this building is very awsome…

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    1. i agree with you, christina! my mom told me for the longest time the mission inn used to be all boarded up and run down in the 80’s untill some one had bought it and fixed it up again and turned it into a beatiful hotel! 🙂

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  24. JOSH WILKINSON 7 Mar 2010 at 2:24 pm

    THIS IS ALL VERY INTERESTING. I HAVE FOR YEARS AND YEARS WANTED TO EXPLORE THE CATACOMBS. SO ANYONE OUT THERE WHO KNOWS HOW TO ACCESS THEM PLEASE LET ME KNOW. IT EATS AT ME EVERYTIME I SEE SOMETHING ABOUT THEM…THANKS IN ADVANCE.

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  25. I grew up in Riverside and explored the Mission Inn during the early 70’s. The Rotunda was virtually deserted other than a few occupied business offices. I had heard stories of the catacombs and was intent on finding them. I did. I had to crawl through a very small opening that was down a side hall and hidden from view. I experienced many shadows and saw what looked like a monk, but can’t be certain of that. It was creepy and cold but very compelling. After a few more minutes of exploring I crawled back out only to return the following day. Unfortunately I was caught attempting to crawl through the space and never tried again.

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  26. I found your site today. Being interested in Riverside History, I occasionally search for site has had new information. Was interested in your site because of the Mission Inn investigation. I worked at the Mission Inn for 6 years (2000-2006). I originally was hired for security, which I absolutely loved because I got to have keys and explored the entire hotel, including the catacombs, bell tower, rotunda (before the construction), observatory, steam tunnels etc (mostly alone). For seven months I got to explore the hotel as a security agent and often times worked the graveyard shift (11pm-7am). As an employee, I was able to get discounts and was able to stay in several of the high-end suites, including the rooms mentioned here (spiral staircase) & bridal suite. My point, I have been to all of the locations mentioned on this site and never saw, heard, felt, smelled, or perceived any activity. Sure there were rumors that these rooms and areas where haunted, but I know of no employee the entire time I worked there, that had any experience. Nor, do I recall any quest saying anything. After working in security, I joined the accounting department, where guest complaints, comments, refunds, etc were routed, so if these complaints were going to be made we would have got them. The question about the hotel being haunted is one that I still get. My response is always, nobody I ever knew while I was there ever saw or heard anything. I Love the place, but do not believe that it is haunted

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    1. I’ve stayed there a number of times, too, with my family and nothing happened. But I wasn’t looking for it. I was enjoying the beauty and company. Hauntings, or evidence suggesting a haunting, are usually very subtle in nature. If I had not taken equipment (like a digital handheld recorder), I would not have been able to produce any evidence. The voices recorded on my device were not audible at the time. I did hear shuffling around in one of the suites even though no one was there. Hardly conclusive on its face, except that it made me reach for my digital recorder.

      And I saw an apparition my last night there, which deeply unsettled me–being that I have never seen an apparition before and figured I never would see one in my lifetime. I wasn’t even looking for one at the time–hence no equipment to back it up. What I saw was unusual, which made me immediately try to look up what I saw on the Internet, so that I could understand it–being that I was still quite a bit in denial. What I saw was a “shadow person,” blacker than any black and it was fairly close to me. I was standing outside the Alhambra Suite in the patio and the shadow person was literally peeking out at me from the open-mouthed covered hallway, which connects the Alhambra Suite to Aunt Alice’s Suite, etc. It was standing in the alcove with only two doors: my bedroom in the Alhambra Suite and Suite 402, which has the spiral staircase.

      The apparition first appeared out of the corner of my eye, but as I turned to see–it kept its position and we stared at each other for a good two seconds, full-on, before it whipped back into the alcove and disappeared. And that is exactly what fooled me. It was so still for that two seconds that my brain was not comprehending that it was an apparition. I could make out what appeared to be a head, shoulder and upper torso leaning forward, but it appeared to be cowled and standing about 5’3″. And what made it even more strange was that it was so black, it looked two-dimensional.

      Now, I still don’t know what a “shadow person” really is–but I can say that my description matches what a shadow person looks like. If it is a hallucination, then it is one that others have had as well. I have read the scientific ideas presented to explain away these “hallucinations,” but I didn’t fit any of the symptoms. No medication. No alcohol. I was taking a break from a late night photo shoot and had just hung up from a phone call with my wife.

      So what I have, basically, is a first person account with no evidence. And that’s the way it goes. But I did make friends with staff at the hotel; I was told the hotel policy is to deny that the hotel is haunted. I can tell you–there are a few staffers with stories.

      I love the Mission Inn. One of my favorite places of all time. However, now that my wife has heard what I recorded in one of the suites, I don’t think she will let me take my equipment there anymore–at least, not with the family.

      If you to hear strange recordings of disembodied voices at the Mission Inn: Go to YouTube and type “Mission Inn””EVP.” You will hear some examples that you can judge for yourself.

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    2. That’s interesting because I talked to two friends who had kids working there and both reported strange activity including a partial apparition of a woman coming out of a wall in a hallway.

      But they were also told by supervision never to talk about any such “ghost” incidents or stories. That it was strongly discouraged among employees to do so. So they waited until they quit.

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  27. this is so cool!!!!!!

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  28. is the place in la habra because me and my friends and couzins are going to start a show about the unknowed and we love looking for the past so if it is please send mail to lilithgasca@ymail.com or krazycrazyliliy@gmail.com thankyou

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  29. To be very precise–The Carrie Jacobs Bond Suite is 417, not 418. The room directly below Suite 417 is Room 371. These rooms had paranormal activity. So any reference to 418 that I made is incorrect. It is Suite 417 where I stayed and had the successful EVP session.

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  30. Thanks. Your information helps put pieces in place because I heard that the suite with the spiral staircase is the one where a not very pleasant entity tries to push people down the stairs. I did not know if it was 402. However, 402 was where the sounds were coming from that kept disrupting our photo shoot in 403. No one was staying in 401 or 402 that night (I checked). This also probably means the shadow I saw (which was darker than any of the other shadows in that hallway) would have slipped into 402 and not my bedroom, which was adjacent. And I was able to look directly at the shadow before it ducked out of sight. Since I had never seen a ghost or shadow person in my life, I admit I was a deer in headlights for a few seconds.

    Very unpleasant night at the Alhambra, despite its beauty and elegance. Felt like being in a nightmare.

    Changing subjects a little, I started the EVP session in 417 only after unexplained clanking, footsteps and the sound of things being picked up and put down started happening out of nowhere around 12:30 PM. I was on the computer sending an email at the time and when the noises moved from the reading room to the landing and stairway, I abrupty stopped and grabbed by digi-recorder and K-2 meter. The K-2 didn’t pick up anything unusual. And after making sure no one was around and that the place was a secure as possible, I started the EVP for about 9 minutes. I was listening for outside noise and it was very quiet all around. The hotel was well below occupancy probably due to the August heat and it was miserable hot that day outsude. The only unusual thing that literally happened during my EVP session was that my right arm got goose pimples and I literally watched my forearm hairs stand on end. I was quick to dismiss that being that I was getting no responses to my questions and it was very quiet in my suite.

    However, when I played the EVP session later on my computer, I clearly made out a woman’s voice who spoke quite a bit, but very faint. What I’ve been able to decipher so far seems to indicate that she was a former guest at the hotel.

    When I had asked if she could move closer–so we could talk, she said, “Sure. I would love that.” Then she added something that ended with “…pack up. I want to go home.”

    There was also paranormal activity from the room directly below Ste 417. I had a friend staying there that was awoken by the sound of heavy furniture being dragged about 10 feet across the floor at 4:30 AM. I was upstairs asleep at the time and didn’t hear anything. Obviously, nothing was moved at that hour and the sofa inside the suite is unusually heavy; I could not move it 10 feet in one push. When I mentioned that story to the front desk, she said that she had heard the same report from other guests staying in the room below mine regarding the movement of heavy furniture in the wee hours of the morning. What’s interesting is that the sound from the third floor room and the EVP I caught in 417 happened on the same day about 8 hours apart.

    Here is why I think we got so much paranormal activity: we were doing a 1920s-themed photo shoot. We did move furniture around in our waking hours; at times, the room looked quite chaotic. We played 1920s original music to set the tone. And the model I hired for the shoot wore 1920s costuming all over the hotel for various photo set-ups at all hours of the afternoon and into the late evening. Doing this for four consecutive days got us a lot of attention by the living and apparently the not-so living.

    I figured this might happen–that’s why I packed the K-2 and recorder, just in case.

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    1. losangelesparanormalassociation 15 Aug 2009 at 2:18 am

      All very interesting. Thanks for sharing, Craig. We’re looking forward to returning to the Mission Inn for a follow up at some point.

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      1. Yeah, I’m intrigued about taking Suite 402 for a couple of days, and try and see if I can taunt what is allegedly inside there. Problem is getting others to help investigate.

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  31. Craig Owens 9 Aug 2009 at 7:40 pm

    Hey guys:
    I spent four days at the Mission Inn this week and have lots of information as well one good EVP from the Carrie Jacobs Bond Suite, Ste 418. I also stayed at the Alhambra Suite (403) and it was a very rough night due to noise in the suite and coming from the suite behind and above the bedroom. I also thought I saw a shadow figure peeking from an alcove outside of Suite 402, but I have no evidence as I was completely caught off guard.

    The information you posted may not be fully correct, which is okay because the stories vary from site to site and from staff to staff. According to various staff, security and the official licensed book on the Mission Inn, Allis (correct spelling) was the only child of Frank Miller and she was the one who managed the hotel during Franks’ lifetime and took over ownership after Frank’s death in 1935. What is confusing is that Alice was also a name for Franks’s sister. Security said that it is rumored that Allis died in her room in the ealy 1950s, which is Suite 401.

    I don’t understand Suite 402–whether it was once part of Suite 401 or not. I know that several websites refer to a honeymoon suite, which gets confused with the “Aunt Alice” suite (401), but the hotel says that they do not have an official honeymoon suite and after being inside Suite 401, there is definitely nothing romantic going on there. However, Suite 401 has the most check-outs in the middle of the night, with the first recorded check-out in 1993. The policy of the hotel is not to discuss the hauntings, but people do talk and there are lots of stories floating around.

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    1. losangelesparanormalassociation 9 Aug 2009 at 11:24 pm

      Very cool Craig, thanks for the additional information – sounds like you had quite a stay. We love the Mission Inn. It’s true that the information available online and even through the hotel varies depending on the source, which undoubtedly lends to the mystique of the place. The photo posted of the face in the window is of room 401, which is “Aunt Alice’s” suite, and the ‘honeymoon suite’ is across the hall – suite 402 (it’s the one with the spiral staircase).

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    2. i think that is relly werd that you were in suit 402 and aunt allis was in room 401

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    3. I live in Riverside, and I am into ghost hunting! The feeling of being scared seems to get me hyped up. lol. I have an emf detector that gives you rateings if a ghost is near you, if the emf shows a 2.0 or higher. as i went to room 403 my detecotor went to an amazing 8.0…which means a ghost was standing right in front of me!! Could it have been Alice? we dont know, but to get a high rateing of 8.0…i dont think she was alone! i will continue to do my ghost hunting in these rooms, because that was only the begining! 😉

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  32. This is a great paranormal site that you have here. I have a paranormal site as well. You can check it out by clicking on my name. We should exchange links. Let me know. Jason

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